Panthers’ soccer team suffers fourth straight defeat with loss to Dodge County

Published 10:23 pm Monday, March 6, 2023

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AMERICUS – After suffering a hard-fought 2-1 loss at Warner Robins on Friday, a game in which Sumter County starters Creighton Myers and Ary Flores were issued red cards, the Sumter County High School boys’ soccer team came into their Region 1-AA match against Dodge County (DC) on Monday hoping to end their three-game losing streak and stay in the hunt for one of the top four spots that will represent Region 1-AA in the GHSA Class AA state playoffs. However, defensive breakdowns in the midfield and on the back line led to a six-goal barrage by the Indians and DC would eventually go on to defeat the Panthers 6-2 on the pitch at Alton Shell Stadium.

The loss drops SCHS to 6-5 overall and 2-3 in the Region 1-AA standings. The Panthers are currently tied for third place in the region with Cook High School at 2-3. The Panthers will play Cook on Tuesday, March 7, at 7 p.m. in Adel, GA.

“It’s been challenging for us this year with people being hurt,” SCHS Head Coach Michael Pepito said. “With our two best players out, it kind of showed where the starters are versus everybody else. We were out stepped today. We weren’t moving the ball like we should. It seems like if other teams just put a really big hustle in, it challenges us so much, so that’s something that we’re going to have to fix when we can.”

Sumter County sophomore midfielder Jose Perez was instrumental in the Panthers’ first goal of the match, as he sent a free kick into the box and Leo Diaz was there to score.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Though he did not make excuses for his team’s performance, Pepito went on to say that having sets of back-to-back games makes it difficult to get in a few days of good, solid training and it is something that he and his club needs to figure out, considering that they have several back-to-back games during the season.

Things began ominously for the Panthers 38 seconds into the match, as DC’s Aggrey Summey scored the first of his two goals of the match. However, in the 17th minute, the Panthers tied the game when Jose Perez delivered a free kick into the box from about 40 yards out. Leo Diaz was able to get his foot on it amongst the DC defenders and slotted it into the net.

However, with 5:07 to go before halftime, the Panthers gave up a goal when Rene Mendieta scored to give the Indians a 2-1 lead. Not long thereafter, Summey scored his second goal of the match to give DC a 3-1 lead and Jorge Rodriguez would add to the Indians’ lead with a goal. The Panthers were able to respond when Diaz scored his second goal of the match on a free kick from about 40 yards out, but DC responded with two more goals from Erick Avalos and Carlos Cruz to salt away its 6-2 victory.

The Panthers will not have long to think about this result, as they will travel down to Adel, GA on Tuesday, March 7, to take on the Cook Yellow Jackets as part of another back-to-back. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.